By Larry Myler and Hans Balmaekers
Most people believe intrapreneurs are simply internal entrepreneurs, and that they should be expected to act in the same ways, be driven by the same motivations, and respond similarly to a wide array of circumstances. These are naïve assumptions that, more often than not, will derail intrapreneurship.
So, if that’s not exactly true, what is? We asked Larry Myler, Forbes.com columnist, for advice. Larry strongly advocates intrapreneurship as the highest form of employee engagement. As a serial entrepreneur and intrapreneur expert, he shares four fundamental intra/entre-preneur disconnects for you to consider if you are serious about implementing intrapreneurship in your organization.
Myler observes, “Entrepreneurs willingly sign up for unlimited risk, or boundless reward. Not so with intrapreneurs, who take a paycheck from an organization largely to avoid financial risk, and therefore do not expect huge financial gains.
This is the main psychographic difference between the two, and the reason why motivations (both intrinsic and extrinsic) must be carefully aligned for intrapreneurs.”
Intrapreneurs do take more risks then your average employee and it’s important you reward smart risk-taking. Even though the product was a complete flop, the guys who invented New Coke, were given raises and promotions instead of being canned. Why?
Because Coca-Cola executives loved that they were forward-thinking and were willing to take a smart, calculated risk, even if it didn’t pay off. During the Intrapreneurship Conference, you’ll get to hear about rewards systems other companies have adopted for driving intrapreneurship.
“Intrapreneurs by definition are not as autonomous as entrepreneurs, although they’re typically made to believe they are. They are part of a bigger organization with well established operations, and that means they inevitably give up some autonomy.”
According to the bureaucratic theory of organization, when everyone does his or her specialized job as directed by the boss, the whole works together and creates value for the customer and the shareholders. This sort of hierarchical coordination once worked well enough. Today, it is increasingly unworkable and become obsolete.
The intrapreneurial challenge is to find the golden path: to firmly grasp a worthwhile dream in one hand and reality on the other. During the Intrapreneurship Conference we will hear from Noam Wekser, Member of the Board of Oracle, on the challenge of encouraging intrapreneurial behavior in a bureaucratic classic day-to-day business environment.
“Entrepreneurs hire marketing, advertising, R&D, design, engineering, and sales services. They call the shots from the vantage point of boss or customer. Intrapreneurs, however, are employees and have to negotiate for these and other resources, subject to internal availability. The upside for intrapreneurs is that funding is generally offered by the organization, while entrepreneurs struggle to cobble together necessary funding.”
What support can you offer to your intrapreneurial teams? Think of resources, brain-power, assets, and intellectual capital. It makes their job easier, drives collaboration and creativity, but especially makes it more likely they will succeed, moving your business forward.
Mentorship has been proven to be one of the most effective; especially when provided by seasoned entrepreneurs. During the Intrapreneurship Conference, you’ll get to know various strategies for implementing such a mentorship program.
“Entrepreneurs have the luxury of building a company’s culture from scratch, while intrapreneurs fight against a long history of many deeply held and widely shared beliefs and assumptions—some of which run counter to intrapreneurship itself.”
Culture – it’s a strange thing. Most innovative companies once in the market, end up following customers’ requests, and fail to be able to renew their perspective. This is the classical innovator’s dilemma. Intrapreneurship strategies reveal themselves as very solid ways of quenching these structural and cultural short-comings, by reconnecting teams that have become risk-adverse to the innovation playfield. Philippe Méda will deliver a keynote on this topic.
Intrapreneurs are not just entrepreneurs who happen to work inside an organization. There are some fundamental differences in their motivations, the skills they posses and the environment they need to thrive. If you want to know how you can implement intrapreneurship in your organization, join the conference (only a few spots left!).